Belmont is celebrating the 68th year of Veterans Day being observed in the United States.
Bruin Vets, a club for the over-330 veterans on campus, works with students who served in the Armed Forces to ensure they have every resource available to them.
“I can say what I think, and I can open up to other people. Because a lot of the times walking around here going to classes, interacting with others, I feel like I kind of have to keep a lot to the side that I can’t show to other people,” said club member and veteran Nicolas Hackler.
In Bruin Vets, members can come and go as they please and help themselves to the Veterans Lounge in Fidelity Hall. Once students returned to campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the group looked for a way to draw members back in.
It all started with a simple idea: doughnuts.
“Surprisingly enough it was a huge hit,” said Jacob Hicks, club president and Air Force veteran.
“I feel like our experiences are different from the rest of the student body. It is a good place for us to go, where we can open up and be comfortable.”
But for Hicks and Hackler, the meaning of Veterans Day has changed after serving.
“We took part in something bigger than ourselves. We chose to do so. But then when you come back, people say, ‘thank you for your service,’" Hicks said. “It has become one of those things that people say, just to say it, and then not really doing anything. You might think you’re raising awareness towards it, but it’s not really the situation at all.”
But the club still finds ways to get involved in Nashville, like working with non-profit organization Creativets.
“They use creative arts to help veterans deal with trauma through the arts. They have also started flying veterans in from across the country and partnering them up with legitimate songwriters here in town,” said Hicks.
As far as today goes, Hicks and Hackler plan to slow down and share a meal with their fellow Bruin Vets.
This article was written by Elisabeth Gage.